I love Resident Evil. I’ve loved it since I first encountered the series back in 1997. Being such a big fan of anything zombie related, I was drawn to it immediately. I even enjoy the really bad movies the series has spawned. I’ve read through the Resident Evil novel series twice. I know the timeline of the series as well as almost anybody. I’ve even had a birthday cake with a picture of Hunk on it. With the imminent release of Resident Evil 6, I’ve been in a Resident Evil mood, and wanted to write a little something about it. I think the thing about the series that has always drawn me to it are the characters, whether they be good, bad, human, or not so human. I’ve compiled lists (because everybody loves lists) of the five best heroes, villains, bosses, and monsters in the series. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Top 5 Heroes
I may get some guff from any Resident Evil fan for not including Leon Kennedy on this list, but I do have my reasons. I will preface this by saying that Resident Evil 2 is my favorite of the series on the PSone, and Resident Evil 4 is my second favorite game of all-time, and Leon is one of the protagonists in both of those games. That being said, Leon is a tool. I mean, he just is. He looks like he spends more time on his hair than a teenager getting ready for prom, he throws out one-liners that would make John Matrix smack his forehead, and he constantly gets the crap kicked out of him. Ada Wong, however, always appears alongside Leon, and always outperforms him. Ada may not fit the typical definition of “good” but I also wouldn’t classify her as a villain. Her intentions are never quite clear. We first find that she’s a spy sent to recover a sample of the G-Virus, then we see her in RE4 working with, and eventually double-crossing, Albert Wesker.
Ada and Leon seem to have a Batman and Catwoman type of relationship, and the feminine side of me thinks “Wouldn’t it be nice if they settled down together?”
Barry Burton oozes machismo. He loves 3 things: guns, weights, and being bearded. There’s the old joke that Chuck Norris has a third fist behind his beard, well Barry Burton has a colt python and a barbell. Not only is Barry the epitome of what a man should be, he’s also a big teddy bear. Reading the novelized version of the first game (The Umbrella Conspiracy) will give you a look into the heart of the bearded beast. He constantly thinks about his family, specifically, his two daughters. When Wesker forces him to turn on his companions Chris and Jill, he is only able to do so by convincing Barry that his family is in danger.
The original Resident Evil is legendary for its campy dialogue, and Barry delivers probably my favorite line in the game. No, I’m not referring to the “master of unlocking” line, I’m more partial to “You were almost a Jill-sandwich.” Obviously.
Unfortunately, there has never been a game that features Barry Burton as the main playable character (I‘m not counting the GameBoy Color game Resident Evil Gaiden). You can play as Barry in Mercenaries mode in Resident Evil 5, but I never played it. As much as I loved Mercenaries in RE4, going as far as to S rank every level with every character in order to unlock all the special goodies, I just never cared enough to play it in RE5. I like the idea they’re going for with Resident Evil 6 and having you play multiple characters, but if I were in control of the direction for the Resident Evil series, I would keep it as a single player game, keep the multiple viewpoints, and Barry Burton would always be included.
Based on his appearance in Resident Evil 5, Chris Redfield could probably bench press more than Barry, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he broke the BSAA‘s wellness policy. Regardless, Chris Redfield is THE hero in Resident Evil. He has been there from the first game, he reappeared in Code Veronica, RE5, and will come back in RE6. He is the only man truly able to stop Albert Wesker in his quest for world domination, and after the conclusion of RE5, we can only assume he finally succeeded in doing so.
He survived the horror of the Spencer Mansion in the original game, he rescued his sister and escaped Antarctica in Code Veronica, and he stopped the Uroboros virus from spreading across the entire planet (as well as saving Jill) in RE5. That’s a pretty impressive resume. The man has seen the types of living horrors that would drive a man to utter madness. It’s no small miracle that he hasn’t developed a very severe drinking problem, because if I had to kill a snake the size of a bus and lived to talk about it, the first thing I would be reaching for is the hardest liquor I could find mixed with the second hardest.
We’ve all heard the complaints levied at developers for being unable to create a strong female character who isn’t over-sexualized. Capcom, however, pulled it off in Resident Evil 2 with Claire Redfield, the younger sister of Chris. I know that Jill Valentine was basically the same character in the original game, but I never real viewed Jill as strong character. Considering all the differences between Jill and Chris, like the fact that Jill had more inventory space, and she gets more powerful weapons in the game, it always seemed like Jill was the character you picked if you wanted the game to be easier.
As well as being a strong female lead, they also show Claire’s nurturing side, as halfway through her side of the story she comes across Sherry Birkin, the daughter of scientists William and Annette Birkin, the former of which being the main man behind the G-virus. Claire acts as a mother figure to Sherry, and eventually escapes Raccoon City with both Sherry and Leon.
Claire’s next major appearance was as the main protagonist in Code Veronica, where she attempted to escape the horrors of Rockfort Island after being captured by Umbrella. While still playing a strong character, we‘re reminded of the fact that she‘s still a young woman, developing a semi-romantic relationship with the most annoying character in all of Resident Evil: Steve Burnside. Partnered with her brother, Claire and Chris are able to take down the T-Veronica virus-infected Alexia Ashford and escape Umbrella’s secret Antarctic complex.
Claire also reunited with Leon in RE: Degeneration, which is easily the best film featuring the Resident Evil name. The movie is considered a part of the official canon of the series, though not considered to be a crucial installment in the story arc. But if you’ve never seen it and you’re a fan, it’s definitely worth checking out.
There is a reason Hunk was given the moniker “Mr. Death,” because he is a one-man killing machine. His character isn’t exactly something you’ve never heard before: he works for a secret organization, has carried out several successful operations, many times being the one member of his team to return alive, is devoid of emotion, and refuses to die. Basically, other than the secret organization part, he’s the Rambo of Resident Evil. Hunk is my favorite character in the entire series, and when I think about it, I don’t know why. Other than a secret mission in RE2, and being a total beast in the Mercenaries mode of RE4, Hunk hasn’t had much of a role in the RE universe, but remains a fan favorite. Maybe the fact that he doesn’t have much of a role is the reason he is so beloved, kind of like Pyramid Head in the Silent Hill series. Hunk is cold, dark, and mysterious. He somehow manages to be a likeable character despite working for the enemy.
Playing as Hunk in Mercenaries is incredibly satisfying. Using him results in the game being a breeze, but even though Hunk is essentially the “win” button, his unique abilities make the somewhat tense situations of Mercenaries incredibly fun. Shooting a ganado in the face, rushing toward them and snapping their neck is something that never gets old. Or shooting the legs out from under someone, setting them up for what I call the “Hunk Punt,” where he basically punts the enemy’s skull out of their head, makes for another satisfying way to conserve ammo.
The "Hunk Punt" in mid-awesome!
Top 5 Villains
None of these lists are ranked, but let’s be honest, Albert Wesker is THE villain in Resident Evil. He is the yin to Chris Redfield’s yang (gross!). He pulls the strings from behind the scenes, but he’s by no means afraid to take matters into his own hands to see to it that things get done.
Albert Wesker is to Resident Evil what Bowser is to Mario, it just doesn’t work without him. The ending of RE5 seems to insinuate that Wesker is finally dead, but then again, if he weren’t, it wouldn’t be the most befuddling thing to happen in the series. Whenever Capcom decides to call it quits with their beloved Biohazard (which doesn’t seem like it’s going to be anytime soon) I think it needs to end with a final, epic showdown between Chris and Wesker.
I’d also like to point out that I think Robert Patrick would have been the perfect actor to play Wesker in the films. Just saying.
Resident Evil: Code Veronica is the one game in the series that I was never able to complete (well, also Resident Evil 0 because I never had a GameCube). For whatever reason, I would lose interest after about an hour, and would never return to it. I’ve tried playing this game three different times, and just couldn’t get past that point. That being said, however, I think Alfred Ashford is an excellent villain for the series. While Wesker is a no-nonsense kind of villain, Ashford is just completely over-the-top…also, insane. It’s a nice change of pace from the typical villains we had seen in the series up to that point. Alfred has an obsession with his dead twin sister Alexia, and you encounter him in the game dressed up as his deceased counterpart and pretending to be her.
Pictured: Alfred being not not creepy
So, as you can see, Alfred definitely has a screw loose, and even though he appears in the one RE game I can’t really get into, I still like the story and characters it has to offer (except Steve Burnside. Seriously, I hate him).
Straight off the set of an 80s Arnold Schwarzenegger film comes Jack Krauser. He is introduced in RE4 as a former comrade of Leon Kennedy who is now working for the game’s antagonist, Saddler (and also in cahoots with Wesker). Krauser exemplifies exactly what a generic action movie character should be. The only problem with Krauser is that he fits the role of the hero’s buddy or the villain’s right-hand man so perfectly that he couldn’t be the top-dog in either respect. The hero needs to be likeable and the villain needs to be believable as a manipulator, whereas Krauser isn’t likeable in any sort of way, and is being manipulated by not only Saddler, but also by Wesker.
Krauser is involved in two of the more memorable sections of RE4. The QTE knife fight between Leon and Krauser is amazingly intense for a battle that basically requires no effort other than reacting in a quick enough manner so as to not see a “You Are Dead” screen. You encounter him again near the end of the game, and while his boss battle is very basic, the events leading up to the battle make for some nervous moments, as Krauser can appear at the drop of a hat and deal damage to you unless you’re able to effectively react and evade/attack.
Krauser is also a nice change of pace for the Mercenaries mode. While all other characters use firearms, Krauser’s weapon of choice is a bow and arrow. Each arrow results in a one-hit kill, but arrows are limited, which brings about the need to be more accurate and to make good use of exploding barrels to deal damage to multiple enemies with just one shot. Also, having that mutated arm doesn’t hurt when in close-quarters.
Apparently, no one ever told Nicholai that the Cold War ended, because this Russian Umbrella operative still acts like he’s in 1985. A lot of people are probably asking who Nicholai Ginovaef is. He only appeared in Resident Evil 3 as the leader of the UBCS Delta platoon (and again in the throwaway RE: Operation Raccoon City). When first encountered by Jill, he is only one of three men left alive in his squad, the other two being Mikhail Victor (who dies soon after) and Carlos Oliviera. Nicholai disappears early in the game and is presumed dead, only to appear later exposing his true role: he is a “Supervisor,” a special operative for Umbrella chosen to gather combat data on Umbrella’s bio-weapons.
RE3 was unique in that it allowed the player to make choices, so it was the first Resident Evil game that wasn’t completely linear, as some decisions you make result in different scenarios later in the game. These decisions can lead to three possible outcomes for Nicholai. One path that can be taken results in his death at the hands of Nemesis. The other path can lead to two different results, either fight Nicholai as he flies around in a helicopter, or you can negotiate with him, which allows him to escape from Raccoon City. This leaves his story arc open, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Nicholai replacing Wesker as the primary antagonist of the series (I should note that I haven‘t beaten Operation Raccoon City yet, so if he dies in that game, please disregard that last sentence).
Salazar is adorably twisted. While he may just be a pawn in Saddler’s quest for world domination, Salazar is a much more memorable villain. The second act of RE4 takes place in the Salazar castle, and Ramon doesn’t take kindly to Leon treading on his family’s ground. The two things that make Salazar such a unique character are his over-the-top voice acting (which often results in some pretty good dialogue between he and Leon), and his little person stature. Being protected by two “Verdugo” monsters, Salazar takes great pleasure in being a cocky jerk to Leon.
One of my favorite parts of RE4 is when Salazar goes on one of his trademark spiels, only to have Leon throw a knife, which hits its intended mark and pins Salazar’s hand to the wall. The shocked pause of Salazar’s reaction and his subsequent hyperventilation, followed by Leon’s smirk and chuckle make this one of the highlights of the game.
Part of me wants to feel sorry for Salazar, as he was tricked into unleashing Las Plagas back into the world by Saddler, which ultimately results in his death. Poor Salazar…
Top 5 Bosses
I was debating on if I should list Lisa Trevor as a boss or a monster, ultimately I decided on boss because there’s only one of her and you only encounter her twice. Despite how grotesque Lisa’s appearance is, when you read up on her, and understand her back story, you really feel sorry for her, she‘s kind of like the Sloth of Resident Evil. Lisa’s father was the man responsible for building the Spencer Mansion in the Arklay Mountains, and Lisa and her mother were used as experiments for the Progenitor Virus. Lisa eventually started to mutate physically and deteriorate mentally. After the death of her parents, Lisa would kill anyone she encountered, tearing off their faces and keeping them with her at all times until she was able to find her mother and “give her back her face.”
"I told you, Barry has your mom's face. Or Jill...go kill Jill."
Lisa Trevor is only encountered in the remake of the original Resident Evil, and she makes for probably the most frightening experience in the whole series when you encounter her in the shack right outside of the mansion.
Everyone has had the feeling of being followed, and it’s a truly terrifying feeling. It’s even scarier when the one following you seems like it can’t be stopped. Nemesis reminds me a lot of The Terminator. “It can’t be bargained with, it can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.” Those are the words Kyle Reese says to Sarah Connor when he explains what the Terminator is, and it’s also an excellent way of describing Nemesis from Resident Evil 3.
This game often receives a lot of criticism, as it was basically pushed out to give fans something to play until Code Veronica, but I really enjoyed it. It was the first one to give you branching paths, and it has a much wider variety of locations than in the two previous titles. But Nemesis is what really makes the game great. The first time you play through, you have no idea when he’ll show up, and in most cases it’s exactly when you don’t want him to. Oh, you’re about to find sanctuary in the Raccoon City Police Station? Boom! Here’s Nemesis! What’s that? Your evacuation helicopter is about to descend to your rescue? Nope, Nemesis is on top of the clock tower, and he has a rocket launcher! Because, why not?
The end of the game results with a final decision: Leave Nemesis dying and let the nuke that’s about to destroy Raccoon City take him with it, or grab the magnum that’s conveniently placed by a dead soldier and get the satisfaction of killing him yourself. I don’t care what anyone says, RE3 was awesome.
The thing that makes the T-103 (or Mr. X, if you prefer) is his sterility. He’s just a giant man with gray skin, dead eyes, and a green trench coat. Resident Evil gets some criticism because the majority of it’s scares are startle moments as opposed to setting up a creepy atmosphere (Silent Hill) or using superior sound design to set the tone (Dead Space). But what’s wrong with that? I argue that it can be more effective. In the RE series, you’re often tricked into thinking you’ve found sanctuary, when in reality, you’re being set up for an ambush that you don’t see coming unless you’ve played through the game before. The T-103 is the best example in the series of being taken by surprise, while you do see it coming the first time, every subsequent occurrence is completely out of the blue, and is usually done with a bang.
He’s the original, so there was no way I couldn’t include him. The final boss from the first game. Even though Resident Evil 0 eventually caused him to be edited to be known as the T-002, in my eyes he’s still the original. Designed by Umbrella to be the perfect B.O.W. and the ultimate killing machine, this beast is eventually loosed on the members of S.T.A.R.S. After seemingly disposing of him in the underground Umbrella laboratory, he comes crashing upward through the concrete of the heliport as our heroes are making their escape. Obviously, the T-002 wasn’t as efficient of an “ultimate killing machine” as Umbrella had hoped, as they made several more iterations of the Tyrant, and this particular one wound up killing exactly zero people before biting the dust at the hands of a rocket launcher. Even though he didn’t have the best win-loss record, he’s still a great boss, he scared the crap out of me when I was 12, and he is the template for what all Resident Evil bosses should be.
William Birkin aka “G”
While Nemesis gets the credit for being the boss best known for pursuing you throughout a game, William Birkin in his G-transformed state did it first. You encounter G multiple times in RE2, and to spice things up, each of those encounters features the G monster in its next evolutionary step. He goes from being human-like in appearance, to animal, and eventually ends up as a giant blob of tentacles and teeth. The first few times you come across G, you can still see some physical characteristics of William Birkin, but by the end of the game all of Birkin has vanished, which I always thought was a nice touch.
The main purpose of G is to find new hosts and impregnate them, and this leads to a very Alien-esque death for one character. G also spends the first few mutations trying to find Sherry Birkin for the purposes of impregnating her, which…yeah, I’ll just leave that alone.
Top 5 Monsters
I’ve always thought that the chimera monsters that appear in the original Resident Evil are easily the most underrated monsters in the entire series. This human-fly hybrid is genuinely a disturbing sight to behold. You only encounter them near the end of the game as you attempt your escape, and even then there are only a handful. As far as the physical appearance of these mutations, they’re rather disturbing and I would rank them as the enemy I would be most terrified of actually encountering.
Crimson Head Zombies
Once you get past the first few zombie battles and realize that you can just run past most of them, you start to lose the feeling of tension and dread you get from the opening door load screens. How do you make zombies scary again? One simple solution: make them run! For any zombie that you don’t burn, they will return stronger and faster, like a zombie on steroids. The first time I saw this happen, I nearly pooped ‘em. I’d be interested to see the series take this approach again. While enemies in RE4 and RE5 have enemies run for short bursts and lunge at you, it doesn’t have the same impact of a zombie quickly getting up off the ground and sprinting toward you with its arms extended.
The original Hunter from the mansion is the best and most terrifying enemy in the game. They decided to make several variants of the Hunter over the course of the series, whether they just look like modified versions of this one, or the weird frog-like version that appears in RE3. But when you think Hunter, you think of this big green mother. This human-reptile cross is one of the mainstays of the series, as it’s brought back over and over again, albeit a little bit altered from the original version. The first time I had one of these guys leap across the room and decapitate me, I sat there for a moment in stunned silence, turned the game off, and walked out of the room. You definitely need to be prepared to take these guys on, as they’re certainly no joke.
Before I knew the proper way to play the older Resident Evil games (run when you can, fight when you have to, and save your bigger weapons for tougher enemies), I thought I could just get by with the handgun. Obviously, that was a huge mistake. When I first purchased Resident Evil 2, I made my way through the zombie-infested streets of Raccoon City, found false safety in Kendo’s Gun Shop, watched Robert Kendo get eaten alive, grabbed his shotgun, and proceeded to use the five rounds of ammunition the gun had in it on the next five zombies I came across. Yeah, that was dumb. The first Licker in the game had little trouble disposing of Leon S. Kennedy.
Lickers are skinless, eyeless creatures with tongues that put Gene Simmons to shame, with giant talons and the ability to leap great distances. Lickers aren’t used as often as Hunters, but they’ve still made their fair share of appearances, including a memorable appearance in Resident Evil 5 which prompts you to slowly walk past several of them in an attempt to bypass a difficult fight.
I will go on record and say that the Regenerators from Resident Evil 4 are the most terrifying monsters in the series. These giant, sexless creatures are made more terrifying by their barrenness. Their pale, gray skin combined with the low moan they let out result in a Hungry Man sized serving of creepy. My buddy Luke had a similar experience with the Regenerator that I did with the Hunter. Near the end of the game you come to a corridor with prison cells on both sides. Luke could hear the Regenerator somewhere, but couldn’t see it. He checked a cell on the right, turned around to check the one parallel to it, and had the monster right up in his grill. Luke then turned the game off and came back to it the next day.
In addition to their appearance, the only way you can kill them is by using a sniper rifle equipped with an infrared scope (or the Chicago typewriter or rocket launcher, if you want to be boring), which makes it even more difficult on the player. The Regenerator also has a brother, referred to as the Iron Maiden, which is basically just a Regenerator with spikes protruding out of its body to use against its opponents, but I find the simplicity of the Regenerator much more scary.
But they apparently both have the same signature pose
So, there. There’s a bunch of Resident Evil goodness for you. I’m sure some agree with the lists, I’m sure some don’t. Some are probably thinking “Oh yeah, the chimera was pretty underrated,” and others may be thinking “Wait, who was Nicholai again?” The series has experienced its highs and lows, and I’ve stuck with it through the good times and the bad. Considering how amazing Resident Evil 4 is, and how much I enjoyed Resident Evil 5 (when played with a human partner, at least), I’m very hopeful for the newest installment.
Personally, despite my love of the series, I wouldn’t mind seeing it come to an end, at least in the story sense. That seems unlikely, as Resident Evil is still a big money maker for Capcom, but as a fan who has been following the series for 15 years, I think it’s time to get a definitive story end. It seems fitting though, as some of the series’ biggest stars are finally put into the same game with Leon and Chris, and the return of Sherry Birkin with her partner, Albert Wesker’s son, Jake. Not to mention the inclusion of Ada Wong. I would still prefer Resident Evil to be a single-player game, but I’m sure Resident Evil 6 will turn out to be an amazing experience.